Cohort Collab —> Tech Support Collab

Screenshot from Minecraft game. Character holding egg falls backward into lava.

Image Source: http://unpluggedcontrollers.blogspot.com/2013/04/an-unplugged-look-at-minecraft.html

Well…damnit. I can’t tell you all how much I wanted the multiplayer Minecraft world to work, and I promise it wasn’t for lack of trying. This was a project that should have had a test run before the idea was brought to the group, and in retrospect I should have figured out a better way to communicate with them throughout the process. But it was an interesting/frustrating/time-suck of an experience regardless (which is everything a good group project should be, right?). So, after losing a week of my life to test running Minecraft Education Edition, I’m ready to throw on some rose-colored glasses and see if I got anything out of this. Here are my top contenders for “most important thing I learned “:

  1. I am more stubborn and motivated by frustration than I previously thought. Part of me didn’t want to let the group crash and burn after going along with my idea, and the other part of me had rage eyes and forgot there was a group at all. At some point it went beyond earning 20 points, and what was a low key project turned into this battle to overcome all technological barriers (and firewalls) to make this game work. And I had never even played Minecraft before, but clearly that didn’t matter.
  2. There are other people who are equally stubborn when it comes to fixing tech problems (and God bless them). If I continue down this tech-focused career path, I’m glad to know that there are tech savvy saviors just an email away. And if they don’t know the answer to a question they will find someone who does, and that person will help you at a moment’s notice even if they’ve never met you. Your router provider may charge you for this help, but everyone else…free!
  3. I learned more about my computer in the span of 5 days than I have in 5 years. I’m relatively new to the Mac world, so figuring out how to use terminal for entering commands, and how to open ports and download servers was all brand new to me. And not just being able to do it, but then being able to communicate what you had done without DM-ing someone a novel. Even when letting my group know about how to access the game, or writing to tech support, it was a challenge to use language in a way that was both precise and accessible.
  4. Minecraft Education Edition was not ready to be released, but software developers don’t really get “take backsies” so I guess it can only get better. My first email to Minecraft Education Edition support was on July 8th and went non-stop until July 14th. Their last message, “We’re sorry you are experiencing this bug. We will log it so the developers can make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Stab me in the heart! I thought we had developed a rapport. Don’t leave me in the wilderness! But really, they had no idea how to help me, and there was zero online community discussion about it because it was so new (and don’t confuse Minecraft Education Edition with MinecraftEDU which has lots of community support but of course doesn’t pertain to the former at all).

And after all this you’d think I’d never want to see that little blocky world again, but in all honesty I can’t wait to get into my computer lab at school and see if I can get the multiplayer worlds running. Never say die!

Big shout-outs to the following:

  • my ever-patient group members (sorry guys!)
  • Chris, for sticking it out and trying every possible solution with me
  • Owen and D’Arcy, for running “Add Server” tests at the drop of a hat
  • Philip, for not only knowing how to play Minecraft but being willing to teach me how
  • Minecraft support, for emailing me back even when I started using exclamation marks, and pretending to care even when they had no idea how to fix the issue
  • Linksys support, for charging me to poke around on my computer and eventually just telling me to contact Minecraft support

3 thoughts on “Cohort Collab —> Tech Support Collab

  1. I keep thinking about lesson #1 and your comment on Twitter that instructional design was probably a good choice for you because of this combination of tenacity and principal. *And I had never played Minecraft before.* I’ve been in the education and technology game for a long time and that combination is definitely a hallmark of all of the productibe and happy(ish) instructional designers (and teachers who dare not to put their heads in the sand).

    Also, #3! This is a consistent theme for me: learn 10x more in 1/2 the time when I’m pursuing something I’m genuinely interested in…and that’s quite often indirectly related AT BEST to work. I’ve learned more about WordPress and non-incidental social media through publishing an online magazine than all of my experience in education; I learned more about desktop publishing and such through writing projects than work, etc. That’s the trick in getting learners to dive deep: engaging what they care about. The never-ending quest.

    Please Tweet or otherwise share your experience when you do get MineCraft up and going at school!

  2. Your comments about having tenacity when it comes to technology really resonated with me. When it comes to working online, you really can’t be afraid to click around and explore and figure things out. And as I mentioned on D’Arcy’s post, it comes in very handy when you have a cohort or a community of people you can draw from for expertise, brainstorming or just confirmation that you’re either on the right track, the “thing” just isn’t working, or you need more experience than you’re willing to put in at that time. And sometimes, as Dillon pointed out, in the end, your original outcome might change and you have to be flexible.

    As Linnea mentioned, we should expect at some point that technology will fail us, or at least set up a roadblock, hopefully just temporarily. This was confirmed by Phillip in his post and it sounds like you all came together in a Google Hangout to have your discussion. This might actually have been a better choice as combining getting around in Minecraft with a conversation about your experience, might have been a bit of a cognitive overload.

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